Overcoming Edges the Old Fashioned Way

Edge transitions can be particularly traumatic if a fall occurs.  Rope rescue professionals not only need to be skilled navigating themselves over edges when necessary, but perhaps more importantly, they have to be able to safely move the patient over the edge.  In recent years, a huge amount of emphasis has been placed on using artificial high directionals (AHDs) to navigate edge transitions.  Different AHDs such as the Arizona Vortex and TerrAdaptor have become popular.  These “multipods” can be set up as a tripod, bipod, or monopod depending on the scenario.

Photo Mar 28, 11 26 12 AM

Without a doubt, using an AHD is highly efficient.  It minimizes the amount of friction in the system, minimizes shock loading on the rescue system if there is a fall during the edge transition, and keeps the rope away from sharp edges.

However, not all rope rescue professionals will be set up for success with AHDs.  Many rope rescue professionals function at the operations level, and AHDs may not be practical for them for logistical, financial, or training reasons.  That being said, these rope rescue professionals still need to be able to safely maneuver patients over edges.


One option that we have found to be effective is rigging the stokes basket with additional pieces of webbing on the four corners.  Once the stokes basket is near the top edge, rescuers at the edge can use the pieces of webbing to help lift the patient over the edge with minimal trauma on the system or the patient.  Remember, it is imperative that the rope is protected from sharp edges and the rescuers are properly protected from falling!

Bill Elder
Owner / Lead Instructor
Elder Technical Rescue Services, LLC

Mention this blog post when contacting us to set up a rope rescue class for your agency and receive a 10% discount on the cost of the class!

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